This is part of our ongoing series comparing Content Management Systems (CMS) to help you identify which is the right fit for you.
WordPress & WooCommerce vs. Magento
There are a number of CMS platforms with eCommerce capabilities on the Internet today. WordPress’s WooCommerce and Magento are two among many, but they both have their place in the world of online business. This guide will pit the two against each other, so you can better understand which has the features your business needs.
When making that final decision, however, you’ll need to determine which CMS platform meets these factors – each of which vary depending on your exact business and online marketplace:
- Budget – How much money do you have for the creation of your business’s website? Setting aside additional funds may lead to more creative features on certain platforms, but which features are worth shelling out for depends on your needs and budget.
- Simplicity – What is your level of experience with web design? Do you need to work with a platform that’ll guide you through the entire process, or do you feel comfortable integrating your own HTML or CSS on a blank slate?
- Methods of Payment – How do you want your consumer audience to purchase goods or services? Most platforms accept all major brands of credit and debit card, but do you want your site to us a specific payment processor such as Stripe or Paypal?
- Scalability – How do you plan for your business to grow? While audience interest can’t always be predicted, do you plan on expanding your inventory or advertising campaign in the near future? Does your ideal platform allow for quick growth?
Once you’ve established your needs and wants, along with your budget, you can more effectively explore the various eCommerce platforms available and pick which one will work best for you.
With that in mind, let’s see how Magento and WordPress + WooCommerce compare as both CMS platforms and eCommerce systems.
Getting to Know Magento
You’ve likely heard of Magento and its eCommerce facilitation. Magento was initially released in 2008 and has been helmed by Magento Inc. since its inception. It’s an open-source CMS that relies on its community to provide system updates that benefit a wider audience.
When you use Magento, you can create an online store that accepts a variety of payment methods, while also providing full control over the inventory you host on the platform’s servers. The community version of Magento is free to download, but there are also versions that you can purchase which provide you with additional features like cloud hosting and customer support.
With that basic overview handled, what are some of Magento’s defining features, and how does it stand apart from its CMS peers?
Registration and Installation
Unlike WordPress and WooCommerce, both of which will be touched on later, Magento is not a particularly easy CMS to install. Magneto was created and continues to be modified with a web-savvy developer audience in mind. As such, if you’re new to eCommerce, you might find yourself overwhelmed with Magento’s complicated set up.
Nonetheless, you still have the option to choose between two different versions of Magento upon your initial download. The first your option is the community edition. This version of Magento does not require a hosting provider, but also doesn’t include all of Magento’s platform customizing features. Basically you get a generic, limited version of Magento.
The second version of Magento is known as Magento Commerce. This version offers cloud hosting and professional support for a monthly fee.
While Magento does not list the fees for Magento Commerce on its website, it’s worth noting that even the free version of the platform isn’t without its fees. While you can download and install the community version free of charge, Magento does not host the websites you make with its platform. You’ll have to seek out a third party hosting platform (likely a private server, more on that later) to get your business up and running.
That’s not a glowing report on Magneto’s operations so far, but let’s keep exploring the platform’s usability.
Business Building and Individualization
Magento doesn’t place as much weight on aesthetic design as other platforms, like Shopify and WordPress, do. With that said, Magento does make webpage themes available in the Magento marketplace. These themes range in cost from $0 to $499, however, which displays a cost disparity and focus on monetization as opposed to an interest in the design and customization of your website.
The reason these costs are so high, is because Magento really is a beast to work with. It is designed to be very customizeable by a coder who knows PHP, CSS, and HTML. To the lay-person, not so much. This means if you want a truly unique design, it is going to cost significantly more than most other platforms.
But, hidden fees and development difficulty aside, Magento markets itself as an excellent platform for B2B (or business to business operations), small businesses, and retailers that have international audiences. As such, its marketplace customization features and business analyst tools are of a higher caliber than more general CMS platforms like Shopify. What, then, does Magento have to offer?
Omni-Channel Operations – If you want to gain a competitive edge over other businesses in your field, offering omni-channel access to your goods or services is one of the best methods. Omni-channel retailers are retailers who have a physical storefront as well as an online presence. Through Magento, you’ll be able to pair your physical storefront and your website more effectively, updating inventories and reaching out to an audience that exists beyond the one in your local area.
Extensive Extensions – At this point in time, Magento has made nearly 3,751 different extensions available to its consumer audience. Of those extensions, 1,182 are free for use, meaning that you can integrate multi-lingual translations, improved payment processing, and other essential features into your Magento-based website. However, similar to the Magento installation process, the extension integration process is challenging, and may require you to hire a Magento developer to get things up and running.
Business Analysis and Report Building – Magento will also help you create transaction reports after you’ve completed a sale. You’ll have the opportunity to track the sales habits of your customers and better tailor your own products, design, prices, and other operating factors to fit their needs, if you so choose.
Magento Shipping – Considered to be “smart shipping,” Magento shipping uses the best API system to improve the way you establish shipping costs. You can also partner with third-parties in order to serve your customer’s needs.
While these features are broad and can take you a long way toward creating a one-of-a-kind, hyper-functional site for your business, it’s worth noting: You’ll have to pay Magento’s Commerce fees in order to gain access to them.
Pros and Cons
With all of that in mind, how does Magento stack up as a CMS platform?
- You’ll have no trouble scaling your business on Magento, as the platform’s omni-channel handling is designed to promote business growth.
- For more web design or computer engineering-oriented business owners, Magento offers lots of opportunity for individualized business management and fast payment processing.
- Your storefront will be able to accept payment from PayPal, Authorize.Net, and Braintree without the need to install additional plugins or extensions.
- Just about every Magento feature costs money, to the point where the platform appears to operate in a micro-transaction economy. If you’re on a tight budget, this is not the platform for you.
- Magento is likely not the best platform for new business owners or web designers, as it is a more developer-oriented platform.
Magento can appear to be an abrasive platform – though it does have its perks. How does it look when compared to a platform like WooCommerce?
Getting to Know WooCommerce
WooCommerce was initially created in 2011, but has since been purchased by Automattic, the company which maintains WordPress.com and core contributor to the WordPress software. Like Magento, it is open-source and focuses on providing eCommerce solutions to hopeful business owners.
WooCommerce, unlike Magento, is not a CMS platform that you need to install. Rather, WooCommerce operates as a WordPress plugin. This means that instead of having to familiarize yourself with the limitations of a separate platform, potential business owners on WordPress will only have to integrate the plugin to their existing websites.
Because WooCommerce works within WordPress’ structure, understanding how it operates is also an exploration of WordPress as a whole. What kind of features, then, do these two systems offer a burgeoning business owner like yourself?
Registration and Installation
WooCommerce is not a subscription-based service. Rather, as has been mentioned, it is a WordPress plugin. Instead of downloading a WooCommerce install, you’ll be using a WordPress install to access its eCommerce opportunities.
WordPress as a whole, and creating a site on the platform, is a much more straightforward process. WordPress guides you through its registration and doesn’t leave you with a blank website slate. Rather, it prompts you to choose a theme and general site details before letting you fiddle with customization.
WordPress and WooCommerce allow you to host your business’s website its servers free of charge. However, there are also third-party alternatives affiliated with WordPress on which you can host your site for a fee. Whichever path you choose, you’ll always be creating your site in WordPress’s medium.
Business Creation and Individualization
WooCommerce, as a plugin, focuses more on providing you with the means to turn a WordPress site into a business. As such, it doesn’t provide you with any means of site customization. Rather, if you want to customize your business’s website, you’ll do so using WordPress’s other available plugins, or a WordPress theme specifically designed to work with WooCommerce (of which there are many, both free and premium).
When you first register for an account, you’re prompted to choose your theme. This theme doesn’t impact the functionality of your site, but establishes its initial design. While it’s mandatory to choose one when doing your initial install, you can easily change your theme after moving forward on the platform at any time.
Magento and WooCommerce are both open-source platforms. However, WooCommerce is not as developer-oriented as Magento, even though it does seek out its community’s influence to improve its overall functionality.
When you create a business via WooCommerce and WordPress, you gain access to a number of features that have been community-tested and approved. These features include (but are not limited to):
- Marketability of physical and digital products.
- A variety of acceptable payment methods, including all major credit and debit cards, PayPal, Authorize.net, and Stripe.
- Adjustable shipping fees.
- Mobile-friendly structure.
- Free Facebook extensions and marketing.
It’s also worth noting that WooCommerce and WordPress do not limit the number of items you can sell through your site. As such, you have the room necessary to grow as your business draws a larger audience.
Out of the box, WooCommerce looks great. But with a theme, plugins, custom code, or a combination of all three, you can make your eCommerce store look like anything you can imagine. Because WordPress is so customizeable by design, getting your online store to match your business requires far less work, which reduces your cost significantly.
Pros and Cons
As you can see, there are some distinct differences in the ways that WooCommerce and Magento operate. How do WooCommerce’s features balance out?
- Operating through WordPress allows WooCommerce impressive levels of website customization.
- Payment processing is made easy thanks to WooCommerce’s PayPal and Stripe compatibility. Additional WooCommerce extensions/plugins are available for most other payment processing systems.
- Unlimited inventory allows for scalability in the long run.
- WordPress is an ideal platform for new business owners, as its platform is approachable and doesn’t rely on pre-existing knowledge of code to personalize.
- If you don’t already use WordPress, it’ll be necessary to learn the basics of WordPress in order take advantage of WooCommerce’s features.
- WooCommerce’s social media partnerships are limited to Facebook. In this, it does outstrip Magento, but in terms of overall connections, this lone affiliation makes WooCommerce’s social media compatibility seem limited. This can be remedied by using plugins and extensions.
WooCommerce vs. Magento: The Line-Up
With all of these details lined up, how do Magento and WooCommerce compare?
Generally speaking, Magento is an eCommerce platform designed for operators who are familiar with not just how eCommerce works, but who have extensive coding knowledge and a vested interest in coded customization. It’s not a platform that is welcoming to beginners. Furthermore, the cost of developing a business website through Magento is not suited to fixed budgets, especially with business owners just starting out.
Comparatively, WordPress and WooCommerce make it easy to create a website for your business and to accept payments from all major brands of credit and debit cards. Customization is straightforward, the price of operation is minimal, and there generally seems to be less stress involved in maintenance.
This isn’t to say Magento couldn’t be the right CMS platform for you. When compared to WordPress and WooCommerce, however, it’s clear that Magento was created for a niche crowd, whereas WooCommerce is designed for everyone.
And the Winner is… WordPress + WooCommerce
This really is a no brainer, and we’re speaking from experience. During the early years of Spark Logix Studios, WooCommerce did not exist, so we used to develop our eCommerce website’s using Magento.
Once WooCommerce was released, and additional features began to appear as extensions and plugins, it became very apparent that there is nothing Magento can do, that WooCommerce can’t. That, combined with the difference in cost, led us to stop developing in Magento. Despite it being more profitable for our company, we would be doing a disservice to our Clients if we continued to recommend an outdated and clunky platform that is difficult to work with.
And the cost difference is remarkeable. As a company that bills our Clients hourly for our work, the amount of time needed to get an eCommerce store working on Magento vs. the time needed using WordPress with WooCommerce was significant. Our eCommerce website build costs (for a custom design with unique functionality) went from $60,000 in Magento to around $20,000 for a similar website in WooCommerce.
It’s why we no longer develop in Magento. WooCommerce and WordPress is definitely the way to go!
Talk to an WooCommerce Developer
Want to ask specific questions and get advice? Reach out to us today and we’ll help coach you on how to get your website just right. No obligation or cost!